Experts say Universal Pre-K has evidence to back it up

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Universal pre-K is being called a "pay-now or pay-later" proposition.

While the funding debate swirls in the city of Toledo and in other comparable cities around the country, educators are unanimous in their support of the move.

"Ninety-five percent of a child's brain is fully developed by age five," Dr. Amy Allen, the transformational leader of early childhood and special education for Toledo Public Schools, said. "When we don't provide those experiences, when they're prior to age five, we have lost a great window of opportunity."

Currently, Dr. Allen says their testing shows only 25% of the kids entering kindergarten are ready. Local estimates show there's about 4,000 4-year-olds in the City of Toledo, and TPS has the funding to serve 850 of them.

"The last community needs assessment showed that we were only providing high quality service for less than 50% of the 4-year-olds," Dr. Allen said.

When you're talking dollars and cents, countless studies show a high return on investment, averaging between 7 to 11 dollars per dollar spent. For Dr. Allen, it's more than a pay now or pay later proposition. "When we talk about pay later for kids, it's too late."